‘American Idol’: Who Heads Home — the Sulker Diva or the Sex Symbol?

When Searcrest didn’t mention “surprises” or tell us to “be sure to stick around till the end of the show,” making an educated guess wasn’t a difficult task

You’ve gotta hand it to Seacrest. Though he can be as annoying as a Ford music video, he keeps the show moving. More importantly, he never throws around the phrase “Idol Shocker” unless it’s truly warranted. So tonight, when he didn’t mention “surprises” or tell us to “be sure to stick around till the end of the show,” making an educated guess wasn’t a difficult task when it came to the Bottom Three. 

It was just a question of who would actually go home. Randy claimed he was clueless as to what the results would be, while Jennifer just hoped that it wasn’t another girl.

Week after week, we’ve seen Haley and Stefano land in the Bottom Three. In fact, since the Top 13, they’ve ended up on the stools just as often as they’ve escaped to the safety of the couches. The difference in recent weeks, however, is that they’ve delivered increasingly strong performances, earning praise from the judges. Would that praise also earn them America’s votes?

On the flip side, Lauren, Scotty and James have managed to evade America’s wrath and haven’t landed in the bottom yet. Would Scotty’s uninspired performance send him “just a swingin’” home or was the loyalty of diehard country fans enough to excuse his misstep? Lauren’s admission that she wasn’t reaching her full potential was also a little offputting, but it made you wonder what kind of feats she will achieve once she actually turns on the gas. (Grammy’s? CMA’s? Her own fragrance to be sold at Kohl’s?)

And what about James? Would his showstopping production ideas continue to intrigue, or has America had enough flaming pianos?

Casey’s almost-elimination seems to have been a blessing in disguise for him, as the Judges’ Save and his stunned reaction made for such great television. He hasn’t been sent to the stools since, likely due to a frantic mobilization of his fans and constant accolades from the judges. He is, after all, “more equal” than others, as Steven would put it.

Then there’s Jacob, who has been in perpetual sulk mode since landing in the Bottom Three a couple of weeks ago. It’s true, Jacob. America doesn’t like being preached to by a game-show contestant. But they also don’t like a Debbie Downer. Would his lack of mojo spell trouble for him or would his pared down performance earn him new fans?

In order to find out, we had to trudge through a couple of group-sings featuring overplayed songs and mismatched Idols. Lauren, Haley, Stefano and Jacob attempted Train’s “Hey, Soul Sister” with giddy skipping that was even more “Glee” than “Glee.” More distracting than the singing was Lauren’s trailer park getup complete with gingham bustier, giant belt buckle and crispy hair. Someone needs to lay off the bronzer; she looked more Tanya Tucker than Taylor Swift.

Next up was Scotty, James and Casey with Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida.” Former contestant Matt Giraud famously massacred this song in Season 8, so it was funny that they brought it out of the vault. The group-sing idea is a good one, but it only works when the contestants complement one another. 


Casey and Jacob were first up and spoke of the previous night’s happenings. Casey explained that kissing J. Lo was spontaneous, as he had initially planned to “just breath in her face.” Panting is always charming. Jacob regaled us with the story of how he recovered from the drumming glitch during “Dance With My Father.” “I just went for it,” he said.

Apparently his tenacity wasn’t enough, as he was the first to fall into the Bottom Three. Casey was safe.

Season 7 winner David Cook stopped by to sing “The Last Goodbye” from his upcoming album and introduce his mom to Steven Tyler. Then it was time for a package about how the Idols have been slacking off this week — going to Dodgers games, getting facials, hitting up Lucky Strike for some bowling … perhaps all this downtime could’ve been better used rehearsing the lackluster group-sings.

Lauren, James and Stefano waited to hear who would join Jacob on the stools. Muse frontman Matt Bellamy contacted James to let him know that he loved his performance of “Uprising” and his artistic vision. You’d think such praise would calm him, but James seemed more twitchy tonight than ever. Randy hoped that Stefano wasn’t in the Bottom Three.

Thankfully, Randy doesn’t get paid for hoping. Stefano waltzed over to the familiar territory as the crowd booed. Soon after, Seacrest put a nervous Lauren and twitchy James out of their misery, sending back to the safety couches, a place they know well.

Haley and Scotty were the last up, an interesting pair. Haley has been a perpetual member of the Bottom Three but her performance of “Rolling in the Deep” solidified her as a real contender. Scotty, on the other hand, has never been over to the stools, yet his performance this week was lukewarm at best.

While giving the results, Seacrest could barely mask his disdain and surprise. “After the nationwide vote, Scotty … .WOW! You are safe. Haley, to the stools.”

Almost immediately, though, Ryan offered some relief. He walked over to the stools where Jacob, Haley and Stefano were sitting and asked Haley to stroll across stage with him. “You’re safe,” he whispered into her ear (and his microphone).

So would we lose the Sulker or the Sex Symbol?

Katie Perry performed “E.T.” with a production value worthy of a James Durbin concert. She donned an electric bodysuit to match her electric body and danced with aliens who looked very much like exhibits from Body Worlds. And it wouldn’t be cosmic without lasers!

Seacrest talked to Stefano and Jacob backstage, who had pretty much the same thing to say about their Idol Journeys so far. They did their best, they were happy to share their gifts with the world, etc., etc.

After Mrs. Russell Brand’s out-of-this-world performance, it was time to beam one of the Idols back down to earth. When Seacrest asked Steven whose time was up he replied, “None of them deserve to be standing there.” Way to quiet those critics who say you’re not harsh enough, Steven!

Ryan laid it out: “The person who is leaving us tonight is … Stefano.” I don’t know who was more upset — Stefano or a tearful James. When Seacrest asked how “Idol” had changed his life, Stefano replied, “It started my career, man.” (I’m sure Carmen Rasmusen and Sanjaya said the same thing.)

Stefano, who had to have seen this coming, gave a strong performance by closing the show out with “Lately.” On past seasons, the “loser sing-out” has seemed like cruel and unusual punishment but this year the contestants actually sing with joy and grace. You get the feeling that they’re just thankful for the experience.

And why shouldn’t they be? With such diversity and talent, there truly is enough room in the industry for the entire Top 13. The key is picking the right singles, a lesson that the remaining Idols would be wise to learn. With only five weeks remaining, song selection is going to play a huge role in the next few results shows.

Choose wisely, young grasshoppers.